The legacy of Shon Quannie
The Native Sun Devil community lost one of its own with the passing of Indigenous creative Shon Paul Quannie. Shon, Acoma Pueblo, was an accomplished entrepreneur, business owner of 4X Studio, a design faculty associate and honors faculty at the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, and an active member within many professional communities. A Sun Devil at heart, Shon earned a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial design from ASU in 1997 and remained an active alumnus since, often seen at signature campus events, hosting Native American youth during SPIRIT week, and his favorite, ASU football games. Shon is fondly remembered for his infectious humor, unparalleled work ethic and invaluable mentorship that inspired many. Members of the Sun Devil community share their words on the impacts and legacy that our Sun Devil uncle leaves behind.
Students to professionals: 4X for life
By: Kim Kanuho (Diné)
’02 BS Urban Planning, ’05 MA Urban & Environmental Planning
Fourth World Design Group, LLC
4X was an ASU student organization of American Indian architecture and design students in the 1990s. The 4X founders were Shon Quannie, Darryle Dohi, Sheldon Preston, Shaun Stevens and Kenly Begay. 4X was established to inspire, sustain and mentor students in the architecture and design fields. With the architecture school’s competitive program, 4X wanted to help students excel in their studio classes, computer design skills and presentations. At our 4X meetings we would talk about what class projects we were working on and find ways to help each other. I remember one weekend, both Shon and Darryle met me at the computer commons to teach me how to use AutoCADD, Photoshop and InDesign. They said I would need to know these computer design programs in my profession, and they were right– I still use these programs to this day as a community planner and designer.
After graduating and in our professional lives, we continued to be there for one another as a 4X family. We encouraged one another, critiqued our professional work, talked about ideas, inspired one another and even lifted each other up. We believed in each other as students, professionals and designers. We had a saying: 4X for life.
Shon Quannie was such a good man with the biggest Sun Devil heart. He showed true leadership by leading by example and showing true kindness to everyone he met. Everyone who knew him has their own personal connections and memories. I first met Shon on Palm Walk on ASU campus, just near the old American Indian Studies Annex Building. He gave me a flyer to attend a 4X meeting and honestly, I just went for the pizza, but I’m so glad I went because I met my ASU family that day. We all miss Shon dearly and will always remember his kindness, his big hearty Pueblo laugh, his love for Sun Devil football and his passion for design through his Native-owned business, 4X Studio.
The sounding board
By: Brian Skeet (Diné)
’19 BSD Industrial Design, BSA Design Management
Brian Skeet Design, LLC
The first time that I met Shon Quannie, I walked into one of my undergraduate design classes at the beginning of the semester and immediately noticed a tall, broad-shouldered, stoic individual. He told everyone to grab a seat with a calm tone, and as the students settled, Shon requested that everyone introduce themselves. As the introductions finished, Shon started giving one of the students a hard time in a “big brother” kind of way. This particular student was notorious for giving instructors a hard time and I was a little nervous for Shon– but he had a way of connecting with students, even the difficult ones. That was Shon, though. It didn’t matter if you were a rude SOB or the nicest person in the world– he’d find a way to connect with you.
We eventually got to know each other more throughout the semester. I found out he was from the Acoma and Hopi tribes and had a design studio called 4X Studio. We started collaborating and giving each other feedback on designs we were developing. He helped develop the 2018 Showdown of the Rez logo and I helped him with “Pams Jams” labels. This is the first time that I had developed a relationship with an instructor where the instructor and student were collaborators, designing with one another and not the traditional “instructor recites the textbook” way of teaching. He made me feel like a designer in a non-traditional, organic way.
After I graduated, Shon and I continued to work with each other and we soon created IndigeDesign Collab with Eunique Yazzie, and it took off. We had so much fun working together, making things happen and activating Indigenous spaces, culture and events in the urban Phoenix landscape.
When Shon was alive, I felt so certain and confident in my work. After Shon passed, I was in shock and suddenly found myself right where I began in Design School. Having Shon as a sounding board and talking about design through an Indigenous lens was a much greater foundation for me than I realized. After some time of reflection, in true Shon fashion, he showed me what was already there.
Candace (Badger) Hamana (Hopi)
Study: MA Digital Audience Strategies
Badger PR, LLC
Shon had a way of bringing people together, making people laugh and advancing causes he passionately believed in. He always tried to say hello to everyone in the room and wanted everyone to feel included. He even created group chats at conferences we all attended so we could meet up during coffee breaks or meals. He was a fierce protector of his fellow colleagues and considered himself lucky to be married to his best friend and wife, Danielle. We served on boards together, most recently with the Hopi Education Endowment Fund, and collaborated on various work projects for the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Arizona. His work ethic was unparalleled, and his talent and creative design was inspiring. More than anything, he believed in your success because he believed in your abilities to achieve it. We are all going to miss Shon’s leadership, his Native jokes and the positive impact he made on the emerging Indigenous art community. Rest easy Shon. You will be remembered and loved always, my friend!
Justin Hongeva (Hopi)
’11 BS American Indian Studies, ’14 American Indian Studies
Resource Development Manager, Hopi Education Endowment Fund
In Hopi, giving tribute to someone who has passed is difficult because in the Hopi perspective, death is something we should overcome quickly, that life is what we should celebrate. The Hopi Education Endowment Fund does our best to adhere to heritage Hopi beliefs, but we also recognize the contributions and legacy that Shon Quannie leaves behind.
Shon was always quick to give suggestions or connect the organization to individuals who he thought could help in our overall mission. He often called me when he had an idea or gave info to possible donors we could talk to. He truly cared about the work that we did. When he showed such initiative, we (HEEF) thought, “We have a wonderful board member on our hands. He would have a hand in our success for years to come.” Most recently, he was elected to HEEF’s Executive Committee with his colleagues recognizing his leadership and what he could contribute to the development of our organization. Shon was a leader and demonstrated that through his actions. Not only did he contribute to the HEEF with monetary donations but also with his time, playing a role in our silent auctions and emceeing the last HEEF Student/Donor recognition event.
Shon was not just an advocate for the HEEF but for the entire Hopi community. He showed care to the Hopi community and was an advocate for Hopi small businesses, promoting businesses and artists alike. I have learned through his example and will use his teachings to contribute to my community. We are honored to have had Shon a part of our organization and an advocate for the Hopi community.
Please consider a donation to the Hopi Education Endowment Fund or the Fatty Liver Foundation in Shon’s memory.